Adelaide Desalination Plant, Australia

Providing onsite technical know-how from beginning to end

In April 2008, Aurecon was engaged to undertake technical studies and investigations for the Adelaide Desalination Project. The initial scope of work included conducting environmental and engineering investigation, developing concept designs for the 100 GL per annum seawater desalination plant and transfer pipeline, and involvement in the environmental impact statement (EIS) process.

The marine and terrestrial environmental and engineering investigation programme that supported the EIS and concept design process was a major challenge. It involved not only Aurecon’s own environmental, geotechnical and engineering specialists, but the management of nearly 50 sub-consultants, procurement of a jack-up barge, and the input of South Australian Water Corporation (SA Water) specialists and external reviewers.

For the pre-construction phase of the Adelaide Desalination Project, Aurecon worked closely, and collaboratively, within a wider integrated project team set up by SA Water. In addition to our direct deliverables, we provided assistance to the wider team in terms of the development of the feasibility study, including the business case, plant site selection, pipeline route selection, procurement strategies, and risk management plan.

Aurecon also assisted with the development of tender documents and participated in the bid evaluation process to appoint the consortia and other contractors.

In addition, Aurecon provided the performance-based technical specifications for the plant’s design and construction contract, and associated 20 year operations and maintenance contract, to best meet SA Water’s long term needs across the technical and commercial objectives.

Aurecon provided an onsite technical team throughout the delivery of the project and delivered construction phase contract management, project management and technical advisory services for the project.

The plant was constructed under a design build operate and maintain (DBOM) contract arrangement, with separate contracts for the 13 km transfer pipeline and pump station, power supply infrastructure and early enabling works. Working with the integrated wider project team, the EIS process and approvals, and signing of major works contracts, were all successfully achieved within the tight project timeframe.

The design of the reverse osmosis (RO) system at the heart of the plant allows a high level of plant flexibility and can achieve capacity turn-down ratios to as low as 10 per cent of total capacity with proportional decrease in energy consumption.

Desalinated drinking water was introduced into Adelaide’s water supply network in October 2011 and the plant reached its full production capacity of 300 megalitres a day in November 2012.

SA Water delivered commercial handover of the plant 19 days ahead of schedule, within the original approved budget of AUD1.824 billion.


The project has won the following awards:

  • Winner: Project Management Institute – Global Awards 2013 – Project of the Year 
  • Winner: Project Management Institute – Australia Awards 2013 – Australian Project of the Year
  • Winner: International Project Management Association Excellence Awards 2013 – Mega Sized
  • Winner: Green Project Management Global Sustainability Awards 2013 – Gold: Sustainable Project of the Year
  • Winner: Water Industry Alliance Smart Water Awards 2013 – Planning and Delivery
  • Distinction: Global Water Awards 2013 – Desalination Project of the Year
  • Commendation: Engineers Australia Engineering Excellence Awards 2013 – Project Infrastructure (SA)

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